Interview with Tato Akhalkatsishvili

PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS 13 40x40 cm. oil, canvas  $ 1,600   PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS 10 40x40 cm. oil, canvas  $ 1,600

Tato Akhalkatsishvili was born in Tbilisi in 1979. During 1996-2003 he was studying at Tbilisi State Academy of Arts were he was a member of “Figurative Art Studio” with Levan Mindiashvili, Irakli Bugianishvili and Malkhaz Datashvili. The studio had a great success in Germany.

Since 2000s Tato’s artworks have been mainly exhibited abroad. He also cooperates with galleries in Tbilisi.

Project ArtBeat presents Tato Akhalkartsishvili’s interview.

Mariam Loria – How did you start painting?

Tato Akhalkatsishvili – I was painting since childhood when I also went to art school. In 1996 I entered the Faculty of Architecture at the Academy. I thought the Academy would be the best thing. I had been studying architecture for three years when I understood that it was not for me. It took me away from painting because architectural drawings needed a lot of time. Simultaneously I was working in painting. I don’t like when something is done amateurishly so that is why I decided to move to painting.

The period of time when I was studying painting was not interesting for me. I can not even name the professors because they have not taught anything to me. I had to work absolutely alone with myself and my close friend, Levan Mindiashvili, with whom I have been friends from art school. Irakli Bugianishvili and Malkhaz Datashvili also studied with us at the Academy. Our major turning point was European painting. At that time information was not available and it was very hard to study contemporary European painting. It was in 2003 when we first went to Germany after graduating from the Academy.

M.L. – How did you organize the first exhibition in Germany?

T. A. – When we were finishing our studies at the Academy Irakli Bugianishvili was already in Germany and had contacts with German galleries. One of the galleries was CultiG7 in Mannheim. Irakli showed Levan’s, Malkhaz’s and my artworks to the gallerists. I remember how we printed the photos, cut them out with scissors, put them into the paper-case and Irakli took them to Germany. One year later the gallerists arrived in Tbilisi and invited us to exhibit in Germany.

This was a great exhibition and we were preparing for a year. We were there for three months and it was fantastic. These people just thought that young artists from such distressed country as Georgia, needed support. We were provided with everything and most importantly had a chance to visit galleries, museums.

M.L. – How did your cooperation continue after the first exhibition?

T.A. – We were making exhibitions every year. They presented us at the art fairs. We took the first place at the Osnabrueck art festival and our artworks were published in the catalogue. The gallery CultiG7 presented us there and even the gallerists did not expect our victory. After this success we were invited by the international art fair of Odenwald and we took the first place there as well.

M.L. – How did you get involved in the project “Heritage”?

T.A.–The first exhibition of the project was made in 2013 at the National Museum in Tbilisi. The second exhibition of the project will be in London in 2015[1].

The author of the project is Levan Mindiashvili. I am interested in genetic memory. Due to this I started childhood series. These pictures depict my childhood, my past experience, my memory but not general issues. When Levan told me about the idea of the project I immediately asked myself one question: Can I mentally be a successor of anything? Naturally it turned out that plenty of complexes and attitudes which I don’t like in myself was precipitated from inheritance. I was not sterile towards soviet heritage. I always hated these but could never understand what was so unbearable about them. Everyone cursed that period of time and tried to forget it. So did I and these problems moved to my subconscious. However, when I thought about who I mentally was I guessed that my biography was strongly connected to the Soviet Union and soviet mentality, although I was very little when the Soviet Union collapsed.

I have been thinking and researching this for the last few years. I am trying to figure these issues out with the help of different metaphors and mediums. I want to get rid of these challenges as soon as possible. Regardless of the fact that we live in an absolutely different universe today, these issues are still very important. The Conversation series I am currently working on deals with this problem and is inspired by it. I am still looking back to analyze everything. Only then I will be able to look ahead.

CONVERSATION 02 80x80 cm. oil, canvas $ 3,500   CONVERSATION 08 70x50 cm. oil, canvas $ 2,500

M.L. – A lot of artists are doing vice versa, they ignore negative information and refer to positive, to what they are lacking…

T.A. – That is another strategy. One time I thought I could lead my artworks towards positive information.  I wanted to do so but I felt I needed something else. I always try to face problems.

M.L. – What else inspires you?

T.A. – I listen to remixes by Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto. I love Gia Kancheli. I often take inspiration from music. But mainly I take impulses from myself. It may seem a bit foolish but this is reality. I work on expressing my various spiritual conditions by metaphors. I am interested in expressing a condition when a human is lead by his subconscious, by something, which still has not found its way to his conscious. Besides, I am interested in childhood memories and the moment when a child completes his childhood, realizes that the world is different from before, when he understands that his future is vague. He still cannot conceive what the world is really like and does not know what is coming.

M.L. – The titles of your artworks and series have an important meaning…

T.A. – In recent years the titles have earned a big importance. Earlier I entitled the artworks only to distinguish them from one another. Now the title serve as clues to understanding the meaning of the artworks.

M.L. – Which artists are more close to you and from whom did you study?

T.A. – I don’t know exactly but I think it was Richter, Doig, Borremans. I have several favorite painters but am trying to learn from a lot of artists. For example I like a lot of things in Marlen Dumas that give me a lot but there are also things which I don’t like. There are some artists who do not give you any concrete symbols but show you how to lead your thoughts.

PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS 06 30x23 cm. watercolor, transfer, collage on paper  $ 1,100  PSILOCYBIN MUSHROOMS 07 30x23 cm. watercolor, transfer, collage on paper  $ 1,100

You can see Tato Akhalkatsishvili’s artworks on our online platform:

[1] HERITAGE, London, Great Britain.  The exhibition opened on January 7, 2015. The project is organized by cARTveli; The project is supported by Rich Mix and Dash Art (M.L.)



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